I am sitting here waiting for God to speak to me. He hasn’t yet, and I’m not sure why. I mean, I’m here every day, listening for his voice in my head, or on the phone, maybe. I even cast a hopeful glance at my e-mail now and then in case that’s how God reaches people nowadays. How much trouble would it be for him to call and say, “Just wanted to let you know, Tom, that I love you and you’re soooo, soooo special, and I have endowed you with special powers of understanding, prophecy and insight”?
He’s awfully busy, I know, assuring each of the Republican presidential candidates that only he or she can save the country from perdition. But, come on, he’s God, isn’t he? Surely there is an angel available to take over pumping up the egos of the Republican hopefuls so the big guy can take a moment or two to enhance my self-image? Besides, if he doesn’t stop pumping up the Republicans soon, their heads are going to explode.
I know I won’t be an easy case for the angels and archangels, the cherubim and seraphim, and all the heavenly hosts. I’ve been a happy heathen for decades, and it’s been a while since my shadow darkened the door to the sanctuary. So much has changed, and I’ll require a considerable amount of remedial work.
You see, as a lad I donned a white shirt, coat and tie each week for the trek to Sunday school. And one Sunday a year was given over to a discussion of the parable of the Pharisee and the publican. In that story, the Pharisee stood in the middle of the temple and, with great gusto, thanked God for making him wonderful and awe-inspiring. One of the Pharisee’s more notable gifts from God was a great set of lungs, which he used to let the less blessed know how proud he was to be him. Meanwhile, the publican sneaked into a broom closet, mumbled a humble word or two and went on his way, stumbling and bumbling through life. This annual lesson ended with the admonition to go forth and emulate the publican.
Even to those of us who haven’t been paying close attention, it is obvious theologians have had a change of heart. It is the Pharisees who are favored by God. And if you don’t believe me watch FOX News for a few minutes. Everywhere you turn the modern Pharisees are ecstatic because they’re sure the voice they hear is the voice of God. And why does God speak to them? There are seven billion people on the planet, and he can’t very well talk to everyone. He limits his conversations to those who are well off, well groomed, well spoken and who have marvelously self-satisfied smirks.
And there’s that thing about the meek inheriting the earth. “So what?” the 21st Century Pharisees say. “God loves those who love themselves. Meek means weak, and God doesn’t like the wishy-washy, full-of-doubt types. You chumps can have the earth; we’re going to heaven.” That’s what all the blessed and wonderful people say, and they know because God told them they are blessed and wonderful.
But, wait a minute. If all the outrageously proud are going to spend eternity at the right hand of God – and they are because that’s what God has told them – then inheriting the earth won’t be such a bad deal. All the swelled heads will make Heaven terribly overcrowded.